By Kevin Wilson
Those who knew Odis and Doris Newman well said the longtime Portales couple had a routine life they loved. Part of that routine was fishing at Oasis State Park and Conchas Lake, part of it was playing games at the Senior Citizens Center.
Before most Portales residents had started their days, the Newmans were part of another routine, one that started at 6:30 a.m. in a little corner at the McDonald’s restaurant Monday through Saturday.
The breakfast group members who spent their mornings joking with the Newmans were honorary pallbearers at the couple’s Friday’s funeral services. Some were retired, some were still business owners, but all looked out for each other.
“We’re just all real, real nice friends,” said Genevia Shirley. “It’s just a time to have good fellowship. (We) always look forward to that group. If somebody’s missing, everybody misses them.”
Genevia owns an antique shop in Portales, while her husband Albert has a fencing company. Albert did business with Odis Newman several times before Newman retired from Valley Electric in 1996.
Genevia Shirley said Odis Newman would always joke around with Faye Keener, and would make empty threats to move to another table when she returned the favor.
“We joked a lot,” Keener said. “He liked to tease me a lot and I gave (it) back pretty much. It was a real give and take, having fun, laughing a lot and learning more about each other. The guys were always talking about fishing and we were making crazy comments.”
Keener said attendance at the group was sporadic for the members, depending on their health or their work schedule. Keener, the owner of Morningstar Bed and Breakfast, said she comes to the group around her customers’ schedules.
Keener said some things have changed over the years. The Newmans didn’t come over as much the final year of their lives because of Doris’ health, and a store remodeling meant that group members couldn’t move tables next to each other anymore.
But even when the tables were moved apart permanently, the group stayed close.
“We’d send each other cards when things happened,” Keener said. “They were very concerned, caring people.”
The details surrounding the deaths of Odis and Doris have dominated the breakfast club’s conversation since March 3, when their bodies were discovered southeast of Portales.
“Everybody can’t believe it,” Shirley said. “Since they’re not there, we’ve all been pretty stunned.”
Keener felt the Newmans made the same impact on the people they saw after breakfast as well, noting that Friday’s funeral services at Third and Kilgore Church of Christ were packed. It was people like the Newmans, Keener said, that made the retired Clovis teacher feel right at home when she moved here.
“I’ve never had such a group of people that I can enjoy myself with,” she said.